Convention Ideas: Pay a Visit

You can find the roundup of other convention ideas here.

When we plan convention events, there's a tendency to keep events focused ON the convention itself – doing things there at the hotel, building, etc.  You paid for that floor space, youĂ­re going to bloody well use it.

Floor space aside, for professional events, you might want to think out of the box (or the hotel).  Depending on where your convention is located, you may want to think about doing some professional events outside of the convention.

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Throw a Networking Event

The convention ideas roundup is here.

When conventions focus on career events, its usually panels, workshops and demos.  This is and should be the norm, since these are the things people want and need.  I'd suggest conventions consider one addition to all of this.

A professional networking event.

Take an hour for people interested in going pro and give them a place to talk, exchange cards, and find out more about careers from each other.  INvite people from the professional panels you do run.  Have handouts and documents from recruiters, local businesses, etc.  For that matter, see if a local – or national – job board or service would want to sponsor it (oh, I'd love to see sponsor a geek networking event).

I confess it would be challenging – you'd probably need some icebreakers, and it may take a year or two to really reach a good self-perpetuating pace – but I think it's a worthy experiment.  People network at conventions anyway, adding professional networking to the mix would be a good goal to have.

The benefits I see:

  • It's another social event.  In general, I'm all for those.
  • It would let fans connect on a different level than the usually do – one that benefits them professionally.
  • Gathering your "pro panel" speakers would let them network with each other and further talk to and inform attendees.
  • It's a way to involve recruiters and colleges if you invite them as I mentioned previously.
  • Done right, it could be an event that grows and helps promote the convention.
  • It acts as a foundation for future professional events.

Again, this is more a theory of mine – but if anyone wants to try it out I'd be happy to lend some suggestions . . .

– Steven Savage

Convention Spotlight: Tigercon!

Looking for other ways to add professional and career elements to your convention?  I've been contacting a few conventions to find out just what they're doing in that regard.

Tigercon, an event in Towson, Maryland (north of Baltimore), is a friendly university convention that had two neat additions you may want to use for your own convention:

First, if you want some pro guests, see about getting patronage from a larger convention to help set you up.  You may easily make some contacts or get some new ideas – and even find if you have some local or other guests that may be interested in helping out.

Secondly, keep cultural education in mind especially if you're, say, an anime convention.  People have interests in learning about other cultures, it helps add to the overall feel if you want to add more educational tracks, and you can often get help from local establishments, universities, and cultural centers.

Thanks to the folks at Tigercon – and if you're in the area, check it out!

-Steven Savage